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Wednesday, 8 December 1993
Page: 4182

Senator WOODLEY (5.16 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the document.

I wish to make some comments about the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. I have not had time to read the whole of the tribunal's report but I draw the attention of the Senate to page 7 of the document, where there are two very telling statements. The first one reads:

The Social Security Appeals Tribunal was first set up by Ministerial directive on 10 February 1975.

  At that time, it had only the power to make recommendations, which the Department was not bound to accept.

Then, further down the page, the report states:

In May 1988 . . . the Government announced its intention to establish a new tribunal with powers of decision.

The report states that later on the tribunal was established, and it is now operating. As a member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal back in the late 1970s, and as someone who is very disturbed about its operation in those days and who eventually was asked to resign from the tribunal, I must say that the operations of the tribunal today are far more significant, far more telling and far more satisfactory than when I was a member. On page 13, where there is an analysis of the tribunal's performance, the report states:

. . . the Tribunal changed the decision under review in 35.6 per cent of appeals finalised.

In my day, about two or three per cent of the appeals in Brisbane were allowed. In fact, it was almost impossible for an appellant to have his or her appeal upheld. I believe the figure of 35 per cent of appeals being finalised and upheld is about what it ought to be if such an appeals tribunal is to have any effect at all. So I commend the report to the Senate, and trust that honourable senators will read it. I also commend the Social Security Appeals Tribunal for the effectiveness of its work these days.